I started woodblock printing a little over 20 years ago. It requires several stages—drawing, transferring, engraving, and printing. I much prefer its cooling down process to say painting, where an artist has to continuously face a work in progress.
By distancing myself from work, with each step, I reinforce objectivity.
Recently, I mostly produce monochrome prints of present-day Tokyo merged with historical motifs.
Is the history, as we know it, really true? Or is it a narrative altered to state's liking? I get inspired by these questions and set on intensive research for new themes.
I seek out the truth by going through words and images, visiting actual sites, taking photos, and collecting historical materials (mainly old books), as the most reliable mirrors of time—both, good and bad. This research is very stimulating and exciting. It's like discovering missing pieces of a puzzle, so thrilling that I feel like a detective chasing a mysterious case no one else knows about, or a spy. The process of excavating the truth from concealment and oblivion is akin to woodblock printing where knives cut into the darkness of a black painted woodcut, curving white/light out.
Some people find political or ideological meanings in my works, but I always start with pure curiosity and doubt.
I refuse to propagandize consciousness rising and awareness. I love the irony of history and how the cruelty of those in power is so thoroughgoing that it winds up as utter nonsense. To depict this historical absurdity I collage a narrative from past and present, fiction and facts.
Isn't it ironic that all my search for the historical truth ends up as fiction?
I remember stumbling upon “The Red Flower” by Vsevolod Garshin when I decided to become an artist. A very short, just about 30-page long story, and how it influenced me.
It's about a lunatic convinced that living your own beliefs transcends time and space. Caught by a sense of mission, as the only discoverer and a first warrior, he eventually dies after a tragic struggle against what he believed to be the embodiment of all evils—three red flowers growing in the middle of the hospital garden.
What should an artist do? Discover what others can't see? Believe to be the only warrior? The more fertile and irrational, the more one's struggle achieves!
In a spirit of my inborn defiance, I can't help but feel obliged to always struggle as an artist. I produce my works by discovering dead memories of the past and ominous signs of the future from corners of the peaceful city.